Sandome no Satsujin (2017)

vt The Third Murder
Japan / 125 minutes / color / Amuse, FILM, Fuji TV, GAGA, Gyaga Dir & Scr: Hirokazu Koreeda  Pr: Kaoru Matsuzaki, Hijiri Taguchi Cine: Mikiya Takimoto Cast: Masaharu Fukuyama, Kôji Yakusho, Suzu Hirose, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Mikako Ichikawa, Izumi Matsuoka, Isao Hashizume, Hajime Inoue, Aju Makita, Yuki Saitô, Kôtarô Yoshida.

A movie that takes the form of a cross between a neonoir and a legal drama, but goes in a rather different direction to become a meditation on the nature of truth—a meditation that’s arguably especially needed in an era when we’re bombarded daily by the purveyors of “alternative facts.”

Misumi Takashi (Yakusho) murders his boss, Yamanaka Mizue (uncredited), down by the river side, beating him repeatedly over the head with a wrench, then sets the body on fire. He makes no real effort to evade arrest for the crime, and faces the death penalty.

Mikako Ichikawa as the prosecutor, Sasabara Itsuki.

By the time hotshot lawyer Shigemori (Fukuyama) is called in to conduct Misumi’s defense, Misumi has already Continue reading

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snapshot: The Net (1953)

vt Project M7
UK / 82 minutes / bw / Two Cities, Rank Dir: Anthony Asquith Pr: Antony Darnborough Scr: William Fairchild Story: The Net (1952) by John Pudney Cine: Desmond Dickinson Cast: Phyllis Calvert, James Donald, Robert Beatty, Herbert Lom, Muriel Pavlow, Noel Willman, Walter Fitzgerald, Patric Doonan, Maurice Denham, Marjorie Fielding, Cavan Watson, Herbert Lomas, Cyril Chamberlain.

Behind the net—the wire fencing—of secret UK research establishment Port Amberley, the team led by Michael Heathley (Donald) has finished developing the experimental supersonic nuclear-augmented jet aircraft code-named M7. All that remains is to test-fly the prototype, something Michael wants to do immediately, in conjunction with pilot Brian Jackson (Doonan). But the site’s boss, Professor Carrington (Denham) is cautious, and insists it’s too early to risk human lives, that there should be remote-controlled test flights first.

 

Maurice Denham as Carrington.

But then Carrington dies as a result of a mysterious accident and Michael decides, over the objections of several of his colleagues, to Continue reading

o/t: leisure reading for August 2018

Just a few books read this month, though these five represent quite a surprising number of pages. No duds, although I had some serious reservations about the French and the Cronin. The Lippman was the standout for me.

The links are as usual to my Goodreads notes. This month all of my sputterings were also crossposted here.

book: The Trespasser (2016) by Tana French

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Antoinette Conway and Steve Moran, the detectives from French’s previous novel, The Secret Place , are given a new murder case, one that looks to be a straightforward “domestic incident.” Yet nothing seems to fit quite right as Antoinette and Steve investigate Rory for the death of his girlfriend Aislinn, and matters become yet more complicated when Antoinette finally remembers where she’s seen Aislinn before. Add in that the more experienced detectives on Dublin’s Murder Squad seem to want Antoinette and Steve to run a no-frills investigation and put the case to bed as soon as possible, and it’s no wonder the pair realize there’s something more going on than immediately meets the eye . . . Continue reading

My Blood Runs Cold (1965)

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As well it might!
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US / 104 minutes / bw / William Conrad Productions, Warner Bros.–First National Dir & Pr: William Conrad Scr: John Mantley Story: John Meredyth Lucas Cine: Sam Leavitt Cast: Troy Donahue, Joey Heatherton, Barry Sullivan, Nicolas Coster, Jeanette Nolan, Russell Thorson, Jean Paul King, Ben Wright, Shirley Mitchell, Howard McNear, Howard Wendell, John Holland, John McCook, Linda Meiklejohn.

Julie Merriday (Heatherton), headstrong daughter of the richest and most powerful man in the area, is speeding along the road one day with boyfriend Harry Lindsay (Coster) when she nearly kills motorcyclist Ben Gunther (Donahue). After being pulled out of the ditch, Ben recognizes her as Barbara, his long-lost love—really long-lost, because Barbara Merriday died a century ago giving birth to the child ancestral to the current Merriday brood.

Julie’s father Julian (Sullivan) is brutally possessive and controlling. At first he welcomes the idea that Continue reading

reblog: Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982)

***A splendid account by J.D. Lafrance of what’s arguably the best noir parody / parody noir out there.

Wonders in the Dark

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By J.D. Lafrance

In the early 1980s it must’ve seemed like a crazy idea to mix several contemporary actors with clips from classic films into something resembling a coherent story. Even now it seems like a pretty wild idea and one with few antecedents (Kung Pow! Enter the Fist is the only one that comes immediately to mind). But director Carl Reiner and comedian Steve Martin had the chutzpah to give it a try with Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982), a comedy that simultaneously pays tribute to and affectionately parodies film noirs from the 1940s and 1950s. Only a few years earlier, Reiner and Martin hit comedic pay dirt with The Jerk (1979) and so anticipation was high for this new collaboration. The result was a rare cinematic experiment that was viewed by some as lazy filmmaking and a clever homage by others.

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snapshot: The Net 2.0 (2006 DTV)

US / 93 minutes / color with brief bw / Sony Dir: Charles Winkler Pr: Rob Cowan, Irwin Winkler Scr: Rob Cowan Cine: S. Douglas Smith Cast: Nikki DeLoach, Keegan Connor Tracy, Neil Hopkins, Demet Akbag, Sebnem Dönmez, Güven Kiraç, Halit Ergenç, Mehmet Ergen, Charles Winkler, Ezel Akay, Michael Halphie, Emir Tekeli.

Nikki DeLoach as Hope Cassidy.

Portrayed as a sequel to, or at least a companion work to, the commercially very successful theatrical feature The NET (1995) dir Irwin Winkler—with Sandra Bullock as computer expert Angela Bennett and Jeremy Northam as her murderous foe, Jack Devlin—this is really more of a sister to the TV series derived from that movie, The Net (single season of 22 episodes, 1998–9), created by Rob Cowan, Deborah Pratt and Irwin Winkler, in which a cyberterrorist organization, the Praetorians, strips computer programmer Angela Bennett (Brooke Langton) of her identity and sends her on the lam as an accused criminal. It makes most sense, however, to view The Net 2.0 as a standalone thriller with some genuinely neonoirish twistiness of plot: you can never really be sure people are who they say they are, or Continue reading

Book: The Promise (2015) by Robert Crais

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Los Angeles PI Elvis Cole is hired off the books by Meryl Lawrence, senior executive in an explosives manufacturer, to track down Amy Breslyn, an employee who’s gone AWOL with a stack of plastic explosive and nearly half a million bucks in company money. Next thing he knows, Elvis has walked smack into a murder case — where of course he instantly becomes Suspect #1 — and into the storyline of Crais’s characters from a different series, LAPD K-9 Officer Scott James and his four-footed partner, Maggie. Reluctant to trust each other at first, Elvis and Scott — with the help of Elvis’s partner Joe Pike and their mercenary friend Jon Stone — uncover a conspiracy in which Continue reading

Keep Your Distance (2005)

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Poison pen à trois?
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US / 94 minutes / color / Lunacy Unlimited, Blue & Grey Dir & Scr: Stu Pollard Pr: Christina Varotsis, Stu Pollard Cine: Matthew Irving Cast: Gil Bellows, Jennifer Westfeldt, Kim Raver, Christian Kane, Jamie Harrold, Gary Anthony Williams, Cynthia Martells, Dennis Burkley, Rick Overton, Elizabeth Peña, Stacy Keach, Jenny McShane, Jim Petersmith, Mel Rexroat, Jon Huffman.

A modest yet engaging minor movie that, by its end, somehow seemed to be both more and less than the sum of its parts. I think this ambivalence of mine about it arose because a minor element of the movie comprises a Dan Brownish puzzle whose solution, when finally revealed to us, seems rather a letdown—the clues lead to a particular piece of text whose relevance is, well, a bit tenuous . . . unless I was missing something, which is always possible.

Gil Bellows as David Dailey.

Kim Raver as Susan Dailey.

David Dailey (Bellows) is a highly successful radio host for the (real-life) station 84WHAS in Louisville, Kentucky. He and his wife Susan (Raver) are poster children for the arts, charity and tolerance. David is also near-insufferably smug in this role—for example, he seems to enjoy constantly telling assistant Whit Harrington (Harrold) that he’s a no-hoper—which makes it all the more alarming when one day David receives an anonymous note consisting of no more than the word

LOVE

with the initial letter highlighted. In the envelope there’s also a hotel room key.

Assuming Susan’s the one who sent the note, proposing a spicy night out, David goes to the hotel, a red rose between his teeth and his hopes high, only to discover Continue reading

snapshot: Half Past Midnight (1948)

US / 69 minutes / bw / Sol M. Wurtzel, Twentieth Century–Fox Dir: William F. Claxton Pr: Sol M. Wurtzel Scr: Arnold Belgard Cine: Benjamin Kline Cast: Kent Taylor, Peggy Knudsen, Joe Sawyer, Walter Sande, Martin Kosleck, Mabel Paige, Gil Stratton Jr., Jean Wong, Jane Everett, Damian O’Flynn, Richard Loo, Tom Dugan, Jean De Briac, Willie Best, Victor Sen Yung, “Beetlepuss” Lewis, Max Wagner.

Peggy Knudsen as Sally.

Rich war hero, inveterate womanizer and general pain in the ass Wade Hamilton (Taylor) has come back to Los Angeles for a few days, and that’s regarded as bad news by his old childhood friend, now a detective lieutenant with the LAPD, Joe Nash (Sawyer). Joe tries to put his ol’ buddy under room arrest at the Ambassador Hotel, but reckons without the fact that a bellhop there, Chick Patrick (Stratton), was Wade’s tail-gunner over the Pacific during the war.

Freed, Wade goes to a niterie, Pierre’s, in search of a good time. He thinks he’s found it when he hooks up with the initially reluctant Sally Parker (Knudsen), who seems to be doing her best to be mistaken in a dim light for Lizabeth Scott.

Joe Sawyer (left) as Joe Nash and Walter Sande as MacDonald.

But then the niterie’s star act, Carlotta (Everett), who’s been blackmailing Sally over some letters—“written by my sister,” Sally unconvincingly claims—is gunned down, and Sally, Continue reading